AdFoxFor the longest time, Firefox was the browser of choice for many security and privacy conscious users.  Unfortunately, that might soon change with the introduction of a new advertising program that will use your internet browsing history to deliver targeted advertisements.

The new advertising “feature” is called Suggested Tiles and tailors content based on a user’s “recent and most frequent browsing” habits in order to deliver relevant ads.  Frequency is an important factor within the system; only sites that have been visited multiple times will be used to calculate a user’s advertisement profile.  When a user opens a new tab in Firefox, these targeted advertisements will be the first thing they see, displayed as box tiles in the main viewing area.  Mozilla has already introduced ads in the past, with Directory Titles, but where those advertisements were generic and served up to everyone, this new system will target users directly based on their browser history.

Worry over privacy is a valid concern, but so far, Mozilla has promised that user data will be handled in a discreet manner.  Once a user’s data is collected it will tagged, stripped of identifying data , analyzed by an automated process and then paired with an advertising campaign supplied from a partner.  The only information that gets shared directly back with the advertiser is the country that the ads ran in, the times displayed, pin/blocks and direct clicks.  Mozilla stresses that personal data is never shared.  Even still, Mozilla has sold itself on the idea that it promotes internet privacy, so any change that puts a user’s data in the spotlight seems to run in the face of its core tenets.

For those that are worried about data theft, or just don’t want to see the targeted advertisements, you can opt-out of the program.  If you simply don’t want to see the advertisements, you can disable them from the new tab interface as shown in the image below.
SuggestedSitesFor a more complete fix, you will need to go into your browser options. Click on the three horizontal lines icon in the top right corner of your browser window.

Tracking2Click on Options and then Privacy.  Check the box that says, “Tell sites that I do not want to be tracked”.  Suggested Tiles will not work for users who have enabled the Do Not Track feature.

– Richard Keene
IT Computer Support of New York
Webmaster and Lead Designer